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Government rejects ZCTU proposal for maternity tax relief appeal
Foster Dongozi, The Standard (Zimbabwe)
October 29, 2006

THE government, which claims to have the interests of women at heart, has shot down a proposal by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) to introduce tax-free maternity cash benefits for pregnant women.

The proposal, if it had been allowed, would have seen all employed women receiving untaxed salaries for the 98 days of maternity leave.

Recommendations for the proposed scheme came out of a national workshop on maternity protection held on 18 July this year. It had been proposed that the State should introduce a tax-free maternity cash benefit in order to cushion female employees’ disposable income during their time of need.

According to Wellington Chibebe, the ZCTU secretary general: "The State seems not to recognise the plight of female workers and has declined to approve such a benefit."

The government has in the past refused to allow ZCTU sourced sanitary towels to come into the country for free and instead charged high duty.

The women’s wing in the ZCTU had sourced the sanitary towels in response to reports that some women were using newspapers, pieces of cloth and tree bark as substitutes for sanitary towels because of their prohibitive costs.

An official from the Ministry of Finance who only signed his name as D Gwamba, in a letter to the ZCTU, flatly turned down the request: "In order to reduce distortions within the economy, as well as reduce the administrative burden of tax collection on the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, government has taken a deliberate stance to reduce the schedule of tax exemptions. In view of the above, I regret to inform you that your request was not acceded to," he wrote Chibebe reacted angrily to the snub by the government.

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